Every year, on November the 5th, people across the UK gather to celebrate bonfire night and mark the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ failed gunpowder plot. Though many celebrations will pass without incident, others will experience serious or minor injury as a result of being around fireworks and bonfires.

Pre-covid, figures from NHS Digital show there were annually 2,000 instances of people going to A&E due to firework related injuries. More than 35,000 people searched the NHS website for advice on how to treat fire-related injuries such as burns and scalds. Below are some helpful tips to avoid preventable accidents on bonfire night and at firework displays.

Ways to Prevent Injury on Bonfire Night

If you are lighting fireworks –

  • Make sure the firework is fixed firmly in the ground before you light it.

  • Make sure the area is clear before you light the firework.

  • Wear gloves (they will keep you warm on a cold November night and also protect your hands).

  • Use a taper to light the firework at arm’s length then take a number of steps away from it.
  • If nothing happens, do not go back to the firework once it has been lit; it may still go off.

If you are watching fireworks –

  • Stand well back from the firework display.

  • If you are susceptible to loud noises, wear ear defenders to muffle the noise.

  • If you suffer from heart problems, asthma or bronchitis, it is advised that you watch the display from indoors.

If you are handling sparklers –

  • Always wear gloves when handling sparklers.

  • Never give sparklers to children under the age of five and never carry a child while holding a sparkler.

  • Keep the sparkler at arm’s length at all times.

  • Once the sparkler has gone out, place the stick in a bucket of water (the end will remain hot for some time after the sparkler has gone out).

Pet Safety

  • Always try to keep your pets indoors on bonfire night.

  • Make sure you have enough supplies in to make your pet as cosy as possible for the night.

  • Close doors and curtains to mask the noises of the fireworks and perhaps put your TV volume a little louder to help.

  • Make sure your pet has been microchipped by the vet in case he/she runs away.

In the Event of Minor Injury

  • For minor burns, place the burnt area under cold water for at least ten minutes. You should feel the burning sensation cool down.

  • For slightly more serious burns, cut around any material that is sticking to the skin. Do not pull it off or pop any blisters as this will make the wound worse. You should also cover the affected area with a non-fluffy material (ideally cling film).

Who is Liable for an Injury Caused by Fireworks?

This is entirely dependent on the circumstances surrounding the incident and each case will be different. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, the occupier of the land owes a duty to any visitors to make sure they are safe on the premises. So, if you are injured at an organised event on someone else’s premises, you may be able to hold the organiser liable if they were negligent by not:

  • Purchasing fireworks from a licensed supplier;

  • Reading the instructions carefully before use; or

  • Lighting the fireworks from a safe place.

On some occasions, it may be that the firework malfunctions and causes injury. In this case, you may be able to hold the manufacturer of the firework liable under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Ensure the organiser has kept the receipt, packaging and instructions.

In all instances, it is advised you seek legal advice from a personal injury specialist at the earliest opportunity so they can advise you on your possibility of making a successful claim and of your next steps.

Did You Know?

  • Sparklers can reach 2,000⁰C which is five times hotter than the temperature of cooking oil.

  • Throwing a firework is a criminal offence and can land you a £5,000 fine if you do it.

  • It is also illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under 18 years old.

  • On Bonfire Night, you can’t set off fireworks after midnight or before 7am. On New Year’s Eve, Diwali, and Chinese New Year the cut off is 1am, and any other time of year it’s 11pm.

Personal Injury Claims

Farleys have a number of experienced personal injury solicitors with experience of dealing with a wide variety of claims. Get in touch for legal advice regarding your personal injury claim by phone on 0845 287 0939, by email, or through the online chat below.